Read it and Weep

Just “recommendations” at this stage, and Swan seems to be playing it down significantly, but the report from the Preventative Health Task Force is staggering in its attack on liberty and common sense, and takes the nanny-state to the extreme.  The proposed high(er) priced cigs and booze have already been publicised – here’s a few other ways they plan to help us:

  • People given tax breaks to walk to work (How would this even be measured? I’m too far from work – what If I walk to the station?)
  • “Junk food” will be BANNED from the workplace (I guess we’d lose our vending machine)
  • Tax breaks for gym membership (but only if you can prove actual attendance!)
  • Tax breaks for parents pushing kids into sport
  • Increasing physical activity at school to two hours a week
  • Legislate a “floor price” on alcohol
  • Reduce number of licensed places selling alcohol
  • Force restaurants to list number of calories in each dish

By what right to these morons think they can even contemplate some any of these ideas?

UPDATE:  The Institute of Public Affairs has a more complete rundown with their list of 122 ways towards a Nanny State

47 thoughts on “Read it and Weep

  1. ¡Jesu christo y madre de dios!

    Still, this is what you must expect when you have socialised healthcare.

    It sounds all nice and fluffy, but because the government is paying all the bills for your (inadequate) healthcare, it fells it has the right to dictate how you should live your life as well.

    I thought the Nazi analogies by those opposed to Obama’s proposed health reforms were a little hysterical, but looking at the above I’m not so sure.

  2. I don’t mind if a school owner decides to offer more physical activity in their school.

    But besides that, the laws are retarded. The only moral thing to do is tax evasion, home-brew beer and illegal drugs. Not because you want to. But because they’re trying to stop you. 🙂

    The call for increased tax on cigs & beer is probably motivated (at least among the government) by a desperate desire for more revenue.

  3. Just out of curiosity, has tax revenue even gone down recently? I think I remember reading something about the UK tax take being at an all time high

  4. Thomas Sowell had a lovely turn of phrase that describes this situation perfectly “its incredible the way you start the story in the middle”.

    These people start with the assumption that the government has a obligation to provide for the health of the citizen. That assumption is neither questioned or challenged. The citizen becomes a dependent of the government, this dependency bears a cost, and consequently the government feels rightly empowered to dictate lifestyle choices to the citizen in an attempt to (supposedly) reduce these costs. The state has the right to tell people what choices to make as it is the state who will bear the burden of poor choices.

    The premise, however, is flawed, because the story “starts in the middle”. It is already assumed that the dependency of the citizen on the state for health care is natural and inherent. That is clearly not the case. The state has no ‘natural’ obligation to provide health care. If we start with the premise that people are responsible for their own health choices, and bear the burden accordingly, it is obvious that the state has no ‘right’ to dictate lifestyle choices to the citizen.

  5. Hopefully this proposal is at an obsence enough level where there will be a public backlash.

    It used to be the conservatives that were obsessed with personal freedom violations.

    Thomas Sowell is a very smart guy IMO.
    An interesting observation worth being aware of. There are many instances of people smuggling in implications and assumptions into their arguments. And in order to best answer their question or rebutt their statement, it’s often worth identifying their assumptions.
    Political theory and economics, like any knowledge builds on itself and can be broken down to fundamentals.

    I often tell people that I think everyone should be forcibly wrapped in bubble wrap and confined to their houses to ensure public safety. I should probably come up with a better example though.

  6. Could be time for a grassroots libertarian activist movement to oppose this kind of stuff.

    I hope they bring in cigarette style graphic warning labels for bottles of wine. I’d like to market some stickers that are designed to fit over the government labels – maybe a pram with a cross through it and some witty slogan like ‘Drinking is my choice so sod off’

  7. Papachango- better yet, have tailored stickers that show how much the different governments take in taxes from each product! Cigarette warnings for cig packs, etc. Perhaps they could all end with the same message- “Governments are the problem, not the solution!”

  8. I expected some tax breaks for gym-memberships and feel-good crap like that (though I don’t agree with that either)… but that’s not enough for these control freaks – no, they want you to prove attendance. Imagine the paperwork involved in that? The amount of control and invasiveness – and I guess the sense of entitlement these people seem to think they have over my daily life – just gets the blood boiling.

    And with the junk food at work… it took us a while to find a decent vending machine supplier for our office – most are little mum and dad operations – our latest supplier is a bit bigger, and had gone all out, spending lots of money on new machines (not the chinese knock-offs that keep jamming). Either way, they’ll all be out of business if junk food is banned in workplaces… not to mention we’d need to have a department to define what “junk food” is for this purpose, and presumably some junk food police to monitor it all, and so on.

    This is the problem with this stuff – it isn’t just some higher prices and a minor nuisance… it’s complete surrender of privacy and control of your life and business. And sure, most of this stuff won’t get through – but the mere suggestion should make you very angry. How dare they!

  9. As well as home-made beer kits, I can foresee a day when Coles will be selling home-made cigarette/cigar kits, tobacco seed/lings included. A profit-opportunity beckons.

  10. I believe there is already a fair black market for ‘chop-chop’ (illegally grown tobacco). Watch the profits of the crims go up now.

    It’s an interesting point – will they ban home brew kits?

  11. Charitable organisations should hit the junk food at work idea hard and fast. Where I used to work, there was an honesty box of chocolates and chips, with proceeds going to breast cancer research. Lions and Rotary get a lot of funding from mints and lollies sold via honesty boxes at businesses. Banks sell christmas cakes for charities. This proposal would effectively see these practices outlawed.

    I suppose big government has an antipathy for private charity and care: the more those in unfortunate situations are able to rely on their fellow man, the less dependent they are on government. While not a religious man, I feel that the ‘secularisation’ of society in the last generation has largely been the state fighting to usurp the traditional role of the church as a provider of welfare and charity.

    In terms of protest, one idea that I have tossed around in my head in the past is a ‘citizen at liberty’ movement. Basically, it would aim to create two classes of citizen: one is eligible for government welfare; the second formally agrees to absent themselves from the health care and welfare system. The former are subject to the whims of the state, the latter are allowed to make their own choices in return for their absenteeism. The citizen at liberty would also be eligible for tax breaks for relieving the system of the burden they would otherwise create. This would be a one-way irreversable deal, with citizens at liberty being ineligible to return to ‘common citizens’.

    Obviously, the idea would never be passed, and it may not even be practical. The point would be to raise awareness and get people to think outside the intellectual rut that the state forces them into. The idea that someone can voluntarily remove themselves from being a burden on society might just gain some currency.

    Tim – Thomas Sowell IS a very smart man, even if sometimes a little too hawkish for my tastes. I find it enfuriating that he and others like Walter E Williams have to suffer constant ‘Uncle Tom’ slurs from supposed ‘liberals’.

  12. Wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to ban home-brew… though isn’t this what greenies prefer – everyone doing things themselves?

    With cutting back number of licensed premises – this is a disaster as well (for binge drinking amongst other things). The high liquor licensing laws partly contribute to the big venues with lots of pokies, etc… NSW has had the excellent “Raise the Bar” campaign to try and change this (with some success) – so that we can have smaller/more intimate bars, which produce a safer environment.

    Not only are the bars safer, but a liberal licensing policy sees the back-streets come alive with nice cosy/intimate little bars… the streets are actually safer as a result (instead of being dark, empty and dangerous)… so not only does this policy deprive us of our liberty, it’s actually counter-productive to their aims.

  13. this is truly shocking.

    How the friggen hell would they figure that you walk to work? These people are just dullards.

    Notice the wowser laws coming creeping back.

  14. If you walk to work, then you use up shoes, so some parts of the economy get stimulated (Nike, anyone?). Does anyone know where we can buy cattle prods- to stimulate any stray politicians we meet?

  15. Todd Craig –

    I like your idea of ‘citizens at liberty’, but I doubt it will work in practice. The nanny state needs the tax dollars of the citizens at liberty to fund the welfare dependent ones.

  16. I predict a few sin tax rises, but not too big, and then nothing. Only dickheads are in favour of these ideas and most people aren’t dickheads.

  17. I wonder if coffee is considered to be junk food? I’d just love to see them try to ban that from offices!!

  18. In all seriousness though Nicola Roxon is leading with this “study”. I’m not trying to be critical of her for silly points scoring. However I read in The Age today that she may be using this study to fight against obesity (as though she can). Shouldn’t she be the last person to talk though or doesn’t she have a mirror at home or at work. She’s not exactly thin herself.

    http://images.google.com.au/images?q=nicola%20roxon&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi

  19. Ouch jc, you should have labelled that link NSFL. I’ve puked on the keyboard. Look at that neck! Is she a ruski spy?

    ADMIN: Now, now… play nice. She’s a human too. A totalitarian human who wants to destroy freedom perhaps… but still a human.

  20. Papachango – Im well aware that it is entirely unpractical, and suggest it more as a stunt.

    In terms of taxation, what I would propose is not to absent citizens at liberty from taxation entirely, but rather to calculate the burden an average person places on the health system during their lifetime, then give an annual tax rebate rebate accordingly (i.e. if an average person costs $100,000 over the course of their lifetime, and they live for an average of 75 years, they would be entitled to an annual rebate of $1333). The citizen at liberty may also be liable to a rebate or exemption from sin taxes, as their choices place absolutely no burden on the public system.

    All other taxes would remain the same, the rich citizen at liberty would subsidise the ‘common’ citizen’s health care costs through the taxation system. The only deduction/exemption the citizen at libery would be able to recieve would be the likely cost of their own care. This would both give the individual liberty, and be palatable for the vast bulk of the population to at least consider (even if deciding that they would not want to be citizens at liberty themselves).

    I think that this would be a much easier argument if we had a working euthanasia system in this country. If we first accept that the terminally ill have the right to refuse care and end their lives on their own terms, its a relatively short step to saying healthy citizens have the right to make choices that determine on which terms they live and end their lives. Coincidently, I think the real reason the state fears euthanasia is that it acutely recognises the principle that the individual, not the state, owns their lives.

  21. I agree that these proposals don’t make a lot of sense. In response to the recent report I have written on congestion however several commentators suggest an extra charge to reflect the fact that driving increases obesity relative to walking. Apparently they believe that travelling on a bus consumes more calories than driving a car.

    You can criticise these sorts of proposals on the grounds they are excessively intrusive – they are – but you can also criticise them simply because they are poor policy.

    For example, the floor price of alcohol proposal is an attempt to mimic a more volumetric tax system so that cheap booze with a lot of alcohol in it (e.g. $2 chuck) gets hit with a large tax. Of course the extra revenues with a minimum price go to the firms whereas a volumetric tax goes to government. This might be a lot of money if demands are -as seems likely – quite inelastic.

  22. I agree that these proposals don’t make a lot of sense.

    Not for nothing Harry, but I would have bet you would favor most of these policies.

    I thought:

    1. You would like see as many people off the road, cattle herded into public transport as humanly possible without being accused of running the same “public transport system” Nazis ran for Jews.

    2. You would like to see less alcohol being consumed of the type you don’t consume.

    3. You would like to see higher taxes on tobacco products and disbursement in a controlled environment such as under prescription.

    4. You would like to see more controls on obesity related foods.

    In all honesty Harold, I’ve been scratching my noggin, but I can’t really see where you disagree with any of these “superb” policy initiatives other than taking your word for it, which doesn’t seem to align with your previous stands. I honestly thought these policies were old hat to you in a manner of speaking.

    Apparently they believe that travelling on a bus consumes more calories than driving a car.

    Well of course it would Harry, unless of course you think public transport would pick people up a their front doors and drop them off there too.

  23. I think the real reason the state fears euthanasia is that it acutely recognises the principle that the individual, not the state, owns their lives.

    Funnily enough, I’m scared of euthanasia because we don’t have control over our own lives. We should have control, and I support the right to euthanasia in principle, but legislating it into a socialised health system is begging for trouble.

    Hospitals receive a bunch of top-down funding and the way they increase profits (or “minimise costs”) is to stop treating people as quickly as possible! Consider how this differs to a normal market approach, where they need your business – and what effect legalised euthanasia would have in each case.

  24. Fleeced – I used to think that. But I eventually realised that the state already has a license to murder simply by denying treatment. That is to say, not allowing patients access to medications on cost grounds.

    Perhaps it isnt conducted on the hospital level, but the mechanism is there nonetheless.

  25. i am coming to the conclusion that government bureaucrats are just stupid. not ideological or socialist or nannying or anything. just plain dumb. only a very thick person could have come up with this plan.

  26. They already do that, Todd, by qualifying what is or isn’t on the medication subsidy plan.

    There are on patent drugs that are simply unavailable in Australia or unless you obtain approval first.

  27. Tim Humpries: Yes, we do need that. The only problem is that the purse strings are controlled by the federal government 😦 Even if we did manage to find 5-10000 Aussies libertarians, the federal government would force whatever state we moved to to play nice 😦

  28. Sorry to partially disagree Fleeced, but I’d support the tax breaks. The more tax breaks the better! The rest is outrageous though.

  29. Perhaps 6000 years after the invention of the wheel people want us to walk to work and give up cars.

    What a bunch of neo Luddites there trogs are.

  30. @Tinos you can’t support those tax breaks… even if you would be entitled to them without changing your habits, its still completely wrong. and tax breaks for some just means stealing more from others / stealing from people at a later date.

  31. Dave: Suppose such tax breaks were already law and you wanted to repeal them. Then you’d be criticised for raising taxes on people trying to do the right thing. Peter Schiff was attacked in this way.

  32. Now Rudd has come out asking state government to reduce liquor licensing opening hours. And they’re going to ban Red Bull too.

    So we’re going back to 6 pm closing?

  33. Are they sure that the Social Security system will be able to handle all of these people if they are healthy and keep living? I know here in the states our social security is an absolute failure. If more people lived to collect that would totally destroy the system. If anything we need MORE people smoking, and not just smoking a few ciggs a day, we need full blown 2 packs per day chain smoking. And you know what helps folks enjoy their ciggs? Drinking heavily in the afternoon and drinking a ton of caffeine in the morning. And on weekends, nothing helps the social scene more that good ole Cocaine. Lots and lots of Cocaine.

    Lung cancer is one of the fastest put your ass in the ground illnesses you can get. Instead of chemo just provide some morphine. Get these folks to leave the Social Security system early so they don’t live to expect retirement.

    In order to save the socialist health care system folks want to regulate people’s actions so they are healthier and live longer and don’t need the system as much. See the system isn’t perfect and its short comings need to be blamed on the user. Ofcourse socialist health care will fail, they claim the costs are getting out of control, they are right, they blame the unhealthy in society instead of a method of centralized organization and government planning and payment.

    The problem is that with everyone living longer we have more health care bills for old people problems. Folks from 65-85 have a lot of chronic health care problems, and need their social security, and need assisted living, and all sort of expensive stuff. Lung cancer at 55 is dirt cheap compared to 20+ years of senior citizen issues.

    Perhaps we need to regulate a different sphere of behavior to save a different aspect of a failed government program.

  34. I had a quick look at the report.

    Did they even identify what obesity was? They probably ran off the highly inaccurate BMI scale…if we’re all putting on muscle mass from being ‘healthy’ like they want us to …it will probably skew the figures further, and lead us into more rules and laws because they’ll think their scheme needs ‘tougher action’ to solve the ‘crisis.’

    Second thing I noticed, page 13 of the report refers to road fatalities in Australia. On page 12, they link the reduction in fatalities to government programmes (“it is clear that progressive, staged and comprehensive actions have been the hallmark of success.”) They prove it by outlining them on a chart with lots of neat little arrows, but they seem to seriously be missing the progress that has been made in car safety over the last four decades…

    Poor premises with poor conclusions. This is just what I expect from the government.

  35. Riley, one day, you will be old. Are you going to reject social services because you don’t like taxes?
    Also, can you tell us what you think of fixed electoral terms? Here in NSW, the governing party has an artificial life support system called the fixed four-year term. Does it do any good over there? (ours was only recently introduced, and incumbent parties are already learning to coast along, and oppositions to get lazy. Any Advice? Or should we go back to maximum four-year terms, meaning the Government could call an election earlier?)

  36. One day I will be old. Right now I am only 25, I have still have the majority of my lifetime ahead of me until I will even be considered ‘old’. I anticipate by the time I am of age to be collecting the social security that it will have completely diminished and compared to the money I will have put in I will get a fraction of it back. I am planning my life as if social security will not exist and it will take years of saving/investing on my part to plan for my old age. In 45 years (when I will be 70) I anticipate that the system will have long been collapsed, the payouts will be minimal (especially compared to the amount paid in over several decades). I have calculated before that the ROI that the average American gets in Social Security is considerably less than 1%. I am planning my life to where such a system will no longer exist that saving/investment will be key.

    But. If we want to save social security all we have to do is encourage heavy smoking, heavy drinking, heavy drug use. Like for a morbidly obese person to have a sudden heart attack when they are 55. That is practically FREE! No health care bills involved at all. Just a sudden death. They paid in over decades and now they won’t collect anything, thus ensuring the survival of our SS system.

    As for electoral terms, I don’t think it matters to much. The Machiavellian Predators will always find a way to game what ever system you have in place no matter what. Being able to get rid of politicians is always a fantastic idea. In 2003 in California we had a recall election to dump Grey Davis and replace him with the Terminator. For federal legislature there is definitely a problem with incumbents constantly winning elections, new seats are rarely ever changed. There should be a mechanism in place for citizens to call their own election though. If folks aren’t happy they should only have to get so many signatures to have some sort of recall.

  37. You’d probably like an episode of the British comedy “Yes, Prime Minister”, where Sir Humphrey extols the benefits of taxes on cigarettes, with smokers as ‘people who give their lives to their fellow man!’ Very cynical, and a very funny episode. Actually, all those series are still good, “Yes, Minister”, before that, setting the scene.

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